I know you will thoroughly enjoy today’s guest post “Star Wars Camp or Unit Study: Summer Camp Series” written by Michelle Habrych. I absolutely loved that she has brought some language arts and literary analysis into this elementary-level and totally fun Star Wars Camp. Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment when you do it with your own kids!
A long time ago in a neighborhood across town, I planned and put on a Star Wars camp for my kids and their friends. This is one of three movie camps I put on. Here’s how you can do your own study on the movies, as a camp or just a fun unit study.
We had a weeklong camp, so I have broken down our activities by day.
Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through affiliate links in this post.
Monday of Star Wars Camp Week
On Monday, the first thing we did was to give each camper a Jedi name. How do you create a Jedi name? Take the first three letters of your first name and add the first two letters of your last name. That’s your Jedi first name. For the Jedi last name, take the first two letters of your mom’s maiden name and add the first three letters of the city you were born in or your hometown. We typed this up and put it on the front of the “handbook” with a photo of the Jedi camper in a pose with his or her lightsaber. The Jedi Handbook was a lapbook with the information compiled throughout the week as we studied. We used the customizable blank lapbook from In the Hands of a Child. If you prefer, you can use free printable lapbook templates here.
Star Wars creator George Lucas once said, “The original inspiration for Star Wars was to try to create a modern myth.” Professor Joseph Campbell worked in mythologies and is known for his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Part of that book includes the “Hero’s Journey”.
Studying this helps your kids see how many stories throughout the world share many parts. Watch this short video to understand the Hero’s Journey:
Hero’s Journey of Luke Skywalker
We made a fan booklet of the steps of Luke’s journey through the Star Wars movies (original three movies, episodes IV, V, and VI).
You could include the following in your booklet:
- Call to Adventure
- The Wise Guide
- Magic Talisman
- Passing the First Threshold
- Hero Partners
- Rescuing the Princess
- Hero Action or Monster Combat
- The Sacred Grove
- Mystical Union
- Sacrifice and Betrayal
- Return of the Hero
- Descent to the Underworld
- Reconciliation with the Father and
- Final Victory
If you’re very familiar with the Star Wars franchise, examples for these parts of the Hero’s Journey should be easy for you and the kids to determine. If you’re not, you could watch this video:
We wrote the part of the journey and examples from the movies on each fan piece (or drew them since my kids were young when we did this), and then we attached the fan pieces with a brass fastener.
As you do this, you will see how:
“Luke’s journey through the three films transforms him from a rebellious and impatient teenager, itching for adventure, into a grown-up hero who has confronted his strengths and weaknesses and found the power to help save the world.” –from Star Wars: The Magic of Myth by Mary Henderson
Learning about George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars movies, is very important to your Jedi’s (your camp kids’) training.
We made a booklet about him and found the answers to such questions as these:
- When was he born?
- What subjects did he study in college which lead him to create the SW story?
- What was his first full-length movie?
- What was his breakthrough (first successful) movie?
- How many parts did he decide it would take to tell the SW story as he was writing it in the 1970s?
- How many Academy Awards did Star Wars earn?
- What were some of his later famous movies?
- What honor did he achieve in 1989?
- We printed out a photo of him talking with C3PO on the cover, but you can choose any photo your Jedi likes for this booklet with a quick Google search.
George Lucas Quotes
I found some quotes by Lucas when I put together this camp but I don’t know where I found them, as this was over a decade ago. They may have been from video interviews I watched or books I read. However, these are the ones I really feel are important for you to share with your Jedi:
“I was trying to take certain mythological principles and apply them to a story. Ultimately, I had to abandon that and just simply write the story. I found that when I went back and read it, then started applying it against the sort of principles that I was trying to work with originally, they were all there. I just didn’t put them in there consciously.”
“I’m very much of the painting school of filmmaking, which is you put a layer on, and you put another layer on, and you put another layer on. You look at it, see how it is, redo it. It doesn’t evolve linearly.”
“I made a pact with myself that I was going to make all three (Star Wars) movies, and in order to do that, as I started to make my deal with 20th Century Fox, I acquired the sequel rights, because I didn’t want them to bury the sequel. I wanted to make these movies and I was determined to make these movies regardless of whether they wanted to, or the movie made any money or not. And then I got the merchandising rights, which weren’t anything at the time because there was no such thing as merchandising on movies. Some TV stuff, but not movies. Their life span is just too short. But I figured I could make posters. I could make T-shirts and, you know, I could publicize the movies and, hopefully people would go see it.
And because the studio—everything is sort of a struggle again to survive, which is—the studio won’t put enough money into your movie to get it into the theaters, to do the advertising. So I said, ‘Well, I can’t. I don’t have any money. I don’t have any money, but I can maybe make a T-shirt deal and I can maybe make a poster deal, and I can maybe get these out a science fiction conventions and things before the movie comes out, and promote the movie.’ So I did it as sort of self-preservation.”
“Everybody has talent and it’s just a matter of moving around until you’ve discovered what it is. A talent is a combination of something you love a great deal and something you can lose yourself in—something that you can start at 9 o’clock, look up from your work and it’s 10 o’clock at night—and also something that you have a talent, not a talent for, but skills that you have a natural ability to do very well. And usually those two things go together.”
The Making of Star Wars
Then we watched the original documentary The Making of Star Wars:
We finished our first day of camp by playing Star Wars Mad Libs and trivia. For the trivia, you can get questions from all over the internet (just search “Star Wars trivia) or buy a game such as Star Wars Trivia Game, Cardinal Games: Star Wars Classic Trivia Game, or Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. There are some extremely difficult questions! Star Wars Trivial Pursuit is the hardest one!
Tuesday of Star Wars Camp Week
Elements of Myth in Star Wars
Tuesday morning we talked about the Elements of Myth in Star Wars and created a shutterflap booklet (see photo).
In it the Jedi studied about the Warrior Queen who is brave and calm under pressure—even in disguise (Padme Amidala), The Fool who accompanies the mythic hero and turns out to be an unexpected help in crisis (Jar Jar Binks), The Messengers who carry a message to the hero (R2-D2 and C3PO) and Enemies who often have a mask intended to strike terror into opponents (Darth Vader).
Other Mythic Heroes
Then we studied other mythic heroes including the following: Wilhelm Tell, Fionn, Siegfried, Thor, King Arthur, Aeneas, Jamie the Conqueror, Viriato, Tijl, and Roland. We briefly mentioned how Luke Skywalker is also considered one now. I had the campers write (or draw) what they were able to about each one.
You could use any shape you want for this booklet and whatever mythic heroes you wanted to study. Here are some links to information on mythic heroes: List of Culture Heroes and Heroes in Mythology and Legend.
Six Star Wars Movies
Another shutterflap booklet was used to study the six Star Wars movies. (That’s all we had back then! You could figure out a different booklet to include the nine episodes in the Skywalker saga.) On the outside, we glued printouts of movie posters for each. Inside they wrote information such as the release date and how much money the movie made. If your kids are younger, you could have them draw pictures of their favorite character or part of the movie (my daughter drew Yoda in the booklet for The Empire Strikes Back and drew a heart in Attack of the Clones). Here is a link for information on each movie.
Draw and Color Star Wars Pictures
Also on Tuesday, we took time to draw and color Star Wars pictures. Find instructions on how to draw favorite characters:
Listen to John Williams Music
We listened to the movie soundtracks while we did this. You could talk about composer John Williams while listening if you wanted. Gena also has a 15-Minute Music Lesson on the Music of Star Wars which would be perfect to do at this time.
Watch Lego Short Film
We also enjoyed watching this cute Lego Revenge of the Brick short:
Wednesday of Star Wars Camp Week
Favorite Aspects of the Films
Compare and Contrast
Make a compare/contrast booklet taking one Star Wars galaxy planet and one planet from our galaxy.
I let each Jedi choose his planets, so we had a lot of books from the library, such as Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons, for them to use to research. However, you can look up our planets online here and Star Wars planets here.
Favorite Creature Research
The Jedi also chose a favorite creature from the Star Wars movies to research. He or she wrote facts on a page and could also compare it with something from Earth. My son chose the giant swamp slug while my daughter picked guarlara (like a horse ).
All creatures can be researched on Wookieepedia or in a book like these:
- The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide
- Star Wars: Creatures Big and Small
- Moviemaking Magic of Star Wars: Creatures & Aliens
- Star Wars Battle Cries: Creatures vs. Aliens
- The Big Golden Book of Aliens, Creatures, and Beasts
- Star Wars: Alien Archive
Thursday of Star Wars Camp Week
Jedi Lightsaber Training
My friend’s teenager, Austin, came over Thursday with a friend of his and taught the campers all about the different types of lightsabers. I had no idea there was so much to know about them! If you don’t have a neighborhood Star Wars fanatic to guest lecture, I found some links for you: Gizmodo, Screenrant, and Fandom.
We made a lightsaber booklet. My son drew the difference between Jedi and Sith lightsabers in his. Whatever interests your Jedi should go into the booklet.
While he was there, Austin ran through lightsaber battle moves with the kids as well. I think this was one of their favorite parts of the camp! Take the time to let them play after they have learned. Goggles are recommended for when they “battle” each other! I looked up many Jedi “training” ideas on birthday party sites and compiled them (this was before Pinterest!), so I don’t know where they came from originally.
Fun Jedi Training Ideas
Here are some of the best ones:
*Lightsaber Training (using balloons)—Level One: The padawan must keep the balloon in the air using his lightsaber to work on concentration. Level Two: Use bubble machines to blow bubbles at them, which teaches them that many Jedis can fight at the same time without hitting each other.
*Obstacle Course—Have the kids go under and through different things. Use pool noodles for “energy beams,” and place cones with pictures of Stormtroopers on them as things to avoid. A frisbee with a Starfighter on it can be aimed at a black bucket to fly through a black hole. A play tunnel decorated with green yarn/string/streamers can simulate the Dagobah tunnel, while a red tablecloth with black rocks on it can represent hot lava which the Jedi must go through.
*Balance Training—Put out a wooden beam for the Jedi to walk across. Have them try doing it while carrying a spoon with an egg on the spoon to work on balance. You could just have them walk on a line if you don’t have a wooden beam.
*Sith Droid avoidance—We played hot potato and pretended the ball covered in black felt was a Sith droid.
*Y-Wing bombers—Draw a huge Death Star, tie-fighters, and Star Destroyers in chalk on the driveway (I actually let the kids do this and they had so much fun!!). Have the kids throw water balloons at the targets to take them out (remind them to throw hard enough that the balloons break!). You can also have them stand above the drawings (on a ladder or steps stool) to simulate dropping the bombs.
*Blindfolded training—Similar to some of the exercises Luke is shown doing in the movies, have them “feel the force” as they try to hit something. A pinata might be fun for this!
Droids were an essential part of the Star Wars saga, so we made a booklet and studied them. You could have them learn the different types, write about a favorite one, or draw a picture. You can look them up by name on Wookieepedia or in the book The New Essential Guide to Droids.
Friday of Star Wars Camp Week
Levels of Jedi
The Levels of Jedi were discussed on Friday. We only focused on four main levels showcased in the movies, but there are more. We made a flap booklet and wrote the level of Padawan, Knight, Master, or Council on a flap. Photos printed from the internet were placed on the flaps. Inside they could write details as they studied. Midi-chlorian were briefly discussed since it is talked about in The Phantom Menace. But we did not make a booklet for it. We also talked about the Sith but did not make a booklet.
Star Wars Show and Tell
We ended the week with Star Wars Show and Tell, where Jedi brought items from home to show and talk about with the group.
We also watched the old “Ewoks” cartoon:
And finally, they chose their favorite Jedi or Sith to write about in a booklet. Look up information and pictures on Wookieepedia or in a book such as Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force.
Books to use for your Star Wars Camp or Unit Study
Here are some of the books we used for information since we weren’t using the internet as much back then. Check your library for these!:
- Star Wars: The Magic of Myth by Mary Henderson
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons (Star Wars) by Brandon McKinney
- The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide by Terryl Whitlatch
- The New Essential Guide to Alien Species (Star Wars) by Ann Margaret Lewis
- The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology (Star Wars) by Haden Blackman
- The New Essential Guide to Droids (Star Wars) by Daniel Wallace
- Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force (Star Wars) by Ryder Windham
The movies are available to watch on Disney+ and other digital platforms.
Download a Free Summer Camp Planning Guide!
Summer Camp Series Posts:
In addition to the Night at the Museum Camp, check out these other fun summer camp posts!
Bio of Guest Poster:
Michelle Habrych, mom of two Star Wars fans, watched her first SW movie while dating her husband around 26 years ago! She learned to love the story, but never as much as the kids and her husband. She has taught camps like this out of her home for over a decade to help other families share in the learning adventure with her kids.